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I was surprised to find five-star hotel service at motel prices when I pulled into Blue Shades Motel in Marborough.
Not only is Marborough a delightful town with a number of significant tourist attractions, such as the new $5 million dollar interactive Walk with the Anzacs, the historic precinct, Mary Poppins tours and stunning river scenery but staying at this motel was like finding a gem. In this case, a blue sapphire, due to the distinctive blue shades shielding guest's vehicles from the elements.
New owners Kelli and Michael took over the motel in December 2016. They could see the potential in the property that held 35 motel rooms as well as a pool and conference room. It just needed bountiful and loving refurbishment. Truckloads, in fact.
So much so that on their first night, the couple looked glumly at each other over a glass of wine. "We were thinking what have we got ourselves into?" said Kelli. "We had one booking that night and only one other in the weeks ahead."
But the couple soon set to work bringing the run-down motel up to their exacting standards.
Kelli set the high benchmark as she has had a 20-year background in hotel management, overseeing high-end properties in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
They obliterated the enclosed feelings that brick walled motel interiors can often exude by creating new plastered feature walls and painting them in calm, soothing colours.
Bathrooms were refitted and retiled. The couple replaced all the mattresses and re-carpeted the rooms putting in desks and cabinetry, new bedroom settings, side tables and comfortable chairs.
My recent three nights stay at this stylish motel were some of the most pleasant of my month spent in Queensland.
The room was huge and the new mattress guaranteed restorative nights of quality sleep. The room was beautifully decorated with a large painting in a stylish frame above the bed. The colours of the painting were then picked out in the bed runners and matching pillowcases.
Seeing Kelli the next morning, I asked whether she had employed an interior decorator, but no, it was the eye for style she picked up after years of working in top-notch establishments.
As she had the keys in hand, she was also kind enough to show me some of the other rooms.
The family pool rooms were perhaps the most surprising. Large families often struggle to find accommodation that doesn't involve paying for two rooms. But the front rooms at Blue Shades Motel sleep 7 over two levels. These rooms have direct access to the pool making them a winner with children.
The upstairs area of a family room at Blue Shades Motel
Plus, like all rooms, there is a microwave, kettle, toaster and fridge.
Tucked well away from children at the other end of the property are the executive rooms with leather style seating, large desks and good lighting. Then there are a range of standard rooms but even these have queen size beds and huge TVs.
As someone who travels with a bag full of technology, I appreciated the free wifi and the 4-sided socket power cube on an extension lead, so I didn't have to clamber under desks to plug in my tech as is often the case even in 5-star hotels.
For those travelling with pooch, there is a pet-friendly room with a tiled floor.
The conference room is huge. At present, it is used for monthly art groups and I can see why. It is such an attractive space with high vaulted ceilings and tea-making facilities. At $150 a day, it won't be long before word gets out about this versatile and attractive space.
What surprised me was the extensive menu. It included options such as plunger coffee, soya milk, huge bowls of fresh fruit salad, cafe style raisin toast and three-egg omelettes as well as other cooked breakfast options. Such choices are normally unheard of in country town motels.
As Kelli said, "a lot of out solo travellers appreciate that they can climb into their jammies, enjoy 12 Foxtel channels and just chill out."
I did this one night and tucked into Sastie, the cook's special cheese crusted cottage pie with heaps of steamed fresh vegetables. When I followed this with a bowl of ice cream loaded with fresh berries - it was the perfect fare for a Foxtel and chill night
On another evening, I had dinner in the Green Room that has vases of fresh flowers and decorative green foliage. The walls are not green rather the room takes its name for the space that actors use to relax when not performing. Apparently, in Shakespeare's day, such a room was full of plants and shrubs, hence the name.
The fact that the US President's White House also features a Green Room adds to this sense of sophistication.
And it is a classy space. There's a small seating area where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink. In my case a G &T. We had our entrees in this cosy corner where we also tucked into excellent garlic bread sprinkled with fine parsley and freshly made spring rolls. These were the size of small bananas and brimful of chicken and vegetables and served with a special dipping sauce.
Entrees. Loved the great homemade spring rolls stuffed full of great vegetables
For main, I had Mediterranean lamb cutlets with lime and lemon on a bed of mash and a Greek salad. My companion enjoyed Asian inspired salmon and healthy steamed vegetables. As there is a bar one can enjoy a glass of wine with one's meal.
Mediterranean lamb - well done just as I requested.
Kelli even asked if I would like another glass to take back to my room with me.
The menu really surprised me as it was very much restaurant fare including items such as local prawns, scallop mornay, oysters calamari, rib fillet, rump steak and chilli prawn pasta. Desserts included sticky date pudding and butterscotch pecan pudding with vanilla ice-cream.
Kids meals are available and children will love the exceptional homemade spring rolls. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday, 6pm-8pm. It is also open to the public. Bookings are taken on 41222777.
Or evening meals are also available at the Lamington Hotel which is literally a hop, skip and jump from Blue Shades. They do a great burrito.
I was at reception before departing and heard some of the other guests thanking Kelli for their stay.
Executive suite. Great for business travellers and very quiet.
"Comfortable mattress and the steak was amazing. I'll be back," said one. "Please, thank Michael for the children's books. I forgot to pack ours and he went and found some so I could read the kids a bedtime story," said another.
Or as one guest wrote in the Visitor's Book: "I travel a lot for work all over Queensland and this motel is a stand out for all the right reasons."
Note the pedestrian lights. Your very own Mary Poppins inspired character guides you on a fascinating tour discovering Marborough's connections to the world's most famous nanny. A must do in Marborough.
Where:Located just 1km south of the CBD on the corner of Queen & Ferry Street
Cost:Family Pool Room from $179.00, Standard $126.00, Business Class Business from $132.00, Executive rooms from $149.00, Twin Share Standard from $126.00, Two Bedroom with Kitchen facilities from $198.00, Disabled Access from $130.00.
Thanks for the wonderful article. Maryborough is my home town and as a writer I'm very passionate about what the town has to offer. I'm pleased the Blue Shades gave you such a pleasant stay and I will be sharing your article with all my Maryborough friends and colleagues. Thanks. Great article